Definition Of The Term Racism Sociology Essay

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In this treatment I will supply a on the job definition of the term racism which will be applied in this survey. In order to make this I will discourse a few of the important political and societal events which influenced “ race ” dealingss in the UK and discourse how these events, societal, political and economical, have socially constructed racism in the UK. The treatment is split into five subdivisions. The first subdivision will look at the attitudes of pre 2nd universe war in-migration The undermentioned subdivision will discourse the station 2nd universe war period, in-migration, statute law and policies. In the 3rd subdivision the period since late 1990s and the alteration in political landscape and how this has led to alterations in “ race ” dealingss attack and the addition of the state province. There is besides a brief treatment on how racism operates and the impact of this on communities. To reason I will supply a on the job definition of the construct of racism, to put the parametric quantities of the term within this survey.

Race theoreticians such as Bonnett 1993, Gilroy 1987, Brah 1996 and others understand the impression of “ race ” as a ‘social concept ‘ ; this school of idea was introduced into sociology by Berger and Luckmann. In their 1967 book The Social Construction of Reality Berger and Luckmann ( 1967 ) argued that socially constructed world is re-produced by people moving on their readings of what they perceive the universe external to them to be. They argued that societal building describes both subjective and nonsubjective world – that is that no world exists outside what is produced and reproduced in societal interactions. They give the illustration of the adult male in the street does non normally problem himself about what is ‘real ‘ to him and about what he ‘knows ‘ , he takes his ‘reality ‘ and ‘knowledge ‘ for granted ( p14 ) .

In relation to “ race ” and state, Jackson and Penrose ( 1993 ) argue that both “ race ” and state are so rooted in the manner we think about the universe that we tend to take the classs themselves for granted. It is through their evident “ naturalness ” and immutableness that racism and patriotism do their ideological work.

Surveies in “ race ” and racism in other states such as Australia, Canada and the United States show racism and patriotism in different contexts, they besides highlight the being of important differences, reflecting the peculiar ways that these political orientations are articulated within the societies in which they occur ( Jackson and Penrose 1993 ) . Due to the specific nature of context, period in clip in placing racism, the focal point of the treatment on racism will be in the UK context as this is where the survey is situated and will pull upon the Hagiographas in ‘western states ‘ and the USA where appropriate.

Historical Racism

The statement that the outgrowth of racism can be traced to a precise point in history is heatedly debated, this is chiefly because the phenomenon itself has been inadequately defined ( Guillaumin, 1995 ) . Some consider is as a signifier of practical societal behavior for e.g. Grecian ferociousness in ancient societies, others as a philosophy and defined as the theory of the inequality of “ race ” , and both these different positions lead to divergent positions ( Guillaumin, 1995 ) . However, both these positions leave out the ideological character of racism, the specific administration of perceptual experiences within a given civilization. In sing political orientation, instead than ferociousness and atrocity, the statement that racism can be traced back to the clip of the first European journeys to the ‘New World ‘ holds strong ( Guillaumin, 1995 ) p32 ) . The ideological impression of “ race ” was formed in the class of the 19th century in Europe, the procedure of which was portion of a wider economical, political and societal motion at the clip ( Guillaumin 1995 ) ( Guillaumin, 1995 ) .

Early signifiers of racism occurred in the signifier of black bondage, when people from West Indies and Africa were imprisoned and made to work every bit free labor or sold for net income. These Acts of the Apostless of captivity which had served the intent of increasing the economic wealth of white merchandisers were justified by the portraiture of black people as inferior ( Sivanandan, 1976 ) .

The impression of lower status of ‘black ‘ people is exemplified in historical racial anthropology and human biological science, the subjects which had developed a hierarchal categorization of races, with white people as superior ; rational intelligent existences, followed by ‘coloured ‘ people and black ( African ) people as inferior with childly characteristics who needed to be governed ( Back and Solomos, 2000 ) . This seemingly ‘objective ‘ and scientific, racism, was used to warrant the usage of slave labor, Acts of the Apostless of race murder and atrocity to be acceptable to the ‘civilised ‘ people in western states ( Gilroy, 1987 ) It was besides a period of British imperialism and many states which are chiefly situated in Africa, Asia continents and besides Ireland were colonised, which continued to the first half of the 20th century.

The empirical attack to ‘ ” race ” ‘ was besides linked to what ( John, 2003, Agnew, 2003 ) has called a ‘geo-political imaginativeness ‘ through which ‘ ” race ” ‘ , in a context of colonialism was used to map and give politicised significance to differentiations between different parts of the universe, and was used to sort and separate differences within colonial populations. Through the racialised epistemology and methodological analysis of the ‘geo-political imaginativeness ‘ of colonialism, mental capablenesss, morality, civilization, category and gendered difference, every bit good as district, were encoded and endowed with racialised significances ( Agnew 1999 ) . For e.g. the presumed lower status of the Irish ( Agnew, 2003, p98 ) which played upon impressions of intelligence, was a important portion of arguments about the extension of voting rights in Ireland ( Lorimer, 1978 ) .

However, by the first half of the 20th century with the mass violent deaths by Nazis in Europe of ‘inferior ‘ peoples such as people with disablements, Roma and itinerant and Judaic people the deadly potency of scientific racism, declined as a popular ‘pure ‘ “ race ” policy ( Rose, 1969, Miles, 1984 ) ( Guillaumin, 1995 ) ( Barkan, 1992 ) and categorizations of racial intelligence were no longer prosecute[ 1 ]. Although it is no longer acceptable to reason that ‘ ” race ” ‘ is a biological natural concept with intrinsic and indispensable belongingss, this thought has frequently manifested itself in ‘ethnicity and civilization ‘ ; premises that were antecedently related to constructs of “ race ” continue to proliferate and construction apprehensions of ‘self and ‘other ‘ ( Anthias and Yuval-Davis, 1992, Bonnett, 2000, Brah, 1996, Modood, 1997, Solomos and Back, 1996 ) as will be shown in the following subdivision.

Post-War II, in-migration, statute law and policies

Following the station war II period Britain faced a deficit of labor, and ab initio the labor of ex POWs, Polish and Italian people was employed. The archival research of parliamentary documents by ( Joshi and Carter, 1984 ) and ( Solomos, 1988 ) have revealed the ethnocentrism and racialist premises by some authorities functionaries that the occupations were suited for ‘white ‘ workers as it was alleged the similarities of ‘white ‘ civilizations would non do jobs of absorbing civilizations that were different.

However, ( Sivanandan, 1982 ) argues that Britain wanted inexpensive labor, sensitiveness to demand and unneeded labor contracts. Thus it suited Britain to import the workers it needed from its settlements and ex-colonies ; it was the quickest manner of acquiring the cheapest labor at lower limit ( infrastructural ) costs. Therefore ‘coloured ‘ people from the West Indies were encouraged to go to Britain mostly to make full the occupations. However, from the first phases of the reaching of black workers into the UK they were perceived, both within and outside the authorities, as a ‘problem ‘ ( Sivanandan, 1982 ) , ( Solomos, 1988 ) . Particularly with mention to the societal and ‘racial ‘ struggles which were officially connected with their reaching. Solomos ( 1988 ) argues that the promotion given to the reaching of 417 Jamaicans on the Empire Windrush in 1948 and the subsequent reaching of groups of West Indian workers helped to concentrate attending on the figure of ‘coloured ‘ immigrants and this obscured the fact that the bulk of immigrants came from Ireland, white Commonwealth states and European states ( Miles and Phizacklea, 1984, Solomos, 1988 ) .

The effect of this attitude was that from the early phases of black migration procedure at that place emerged a argument about the deductions of the growing of black colony for the host society, peculiarly in relation to in-migration, lodging, employment, cultural differences and the outgrowth of ‘racial ‘ struggle ‘ ( Solomos 1988 p31 ) . No such concerns were raised about ‘white ‘ immigrants. Having set the case in point that black migrators were ‘alien ‘ and ‘cultural differences ‘ would take to racial struggle, future authorities constabularies were mostly based on such premises ( Miles and Phizacklea 1984, Solomos 1988 ) . ( Solomos and Back, 1996 ) contend that from the 1950s onwards political procedures and establishments have played a cardinal function in the building of racial and cultural inquiries in British society.

This led to consecutive authoritiess in the UK to react to racial favoritism with two steps, statute law to cut down favoritism and statute law to cut down the in-migration of black people ( Sivanandan 1982 ) . The premise being that if the Gatess were closed to black migration the “ race ” ‘problem ‘ would be resolved. These types of policy and attitude ensured that subordination and the exclusion of black migrators was set in topographic point. For e.g. following the “ race ” public violences in Nottingham and Notting Hill in 1958, the Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1962 was introduced to control farther black in-migration. After this period there was a racialisation of in-migration statute law ( Rose 1969, ( Miles and Phizacklea, 1984 ) , Solomos 1988 ) .

The fright that the societal exclusion of racial minorities in Britain could follow the force and upset of the civil rights motion in the US later led to the debut of the Race Relations Acts of 1965 and 1968 in the UK ( Sivanandan 1982 ) . Under the footings of the act, a Race Relations Board was set up in 1966 under which a new organic structure, the Community Relations Commission was created to advance “ harmonious community dealingss ” . However, one of the most controversial countries of the Act was the exclusion of authorities services, such as the constabulary, from legal proceedings. A few old ages subsequently in 1969, the UK authorities chose to sign the United Nations Convention on Racial Discrimination, with a reserve in regard of the Commonwealth Immigration Acts so it could go on with the racialisation of in-migration to the UK ( Rose 1969, Sivanandan 1982 ) . These, and subsequent in-migration controls have continued to hold deductions which range much wider than one facet of jurisprudence. First, because internal in-migration controls affect non merely immigrants but all black people in the UK, they reinforce the division in society between black and white people, and secondly, this had and continues to hold, serious deductions for the civil autonomies and rights of the population in general ( Gordon, 1985 ) .

Recommendation was made by the Race Relations Board that a new Race Relations Act be introduced in 1976. This new statute law went further than the 1968 act in that it included direct and indirect favoritism ‘discrimination by manner of exploitation ‘ and ‘harassment ‘ . The act besides established the Commission for Racial Equality, a organic structure which was seen to protect the rights of black and minority cultural people ( RRA 1976 ) .

During the late sixtiess and 1970s a policy displacement to what was called ‘integration plus ‘ . The so Home Office curate, Roy Jenkins defined integrating “ aˆ¦ non as a flattening procedure of assimilation but as equal chance, coupled with cultural diverseness[ 2 ]( Jenkins 1967, p. 267, quoted in ( Grillo, 2007 ) p983 ) . In this period there was turning acknowledgment of the legitimacy of black and minority cultural people to be different particularly with respect to issues around linguistic communication, faith and the erosion of school uniforms etc ( Grillo 2007 ) . It was thought that individualities and values represented by immigrants could be accommodated within a “ multicultural ” model and the acknowledgment and recognition of different civilizations could coexist with common regard.

However, for many “ race ” theorists the multiculturalists ethos simply resulted in ‘saris, samosas and steel sets ‘ and proved deficient to cover with the existent job of power dealingss within racism ( Gilroy 1987 ; Brah 1996 ; ( Bhavnani et al. , 2005 ) ; ( Alibhai-Brown, 2000 ) ; ( Rolston, 1998 ) ) . And neither was the exclusion of black people from actively take parting in economic and political affairs addressed. Multiculturalism came to hold many different significances and became a dissentious tool making separate groups within communities ( Gilroy 1987 ) . Solomos ( 1988 ) argues that the most common signifiers of racism are to be found non as expressed political orientations or discourse of biological inferiorization, but as different signifiers of exclusion, on the footing of a group non belonging to the civilization of beginning of the dominant cultural group within the province setup.

By the late seventiess and early 1980s it was clear the policy of multiculturalism was non working. The ‘problem ‘ of migrators continued to be debated politically and the ill-famed address made by the resistance leader Margaret Thatcher ‘ … people are truly instead afraid that this state might be swamped by people with a different civilization… ( Margaret Thatcher Foundation 2009 )[ 3 ]was considered to be an indorsement of political racism from the highest degree ( Miles and Phizacklea 1984 ) .

During the 1980s and 1990 ‘s racist incidents and community rebellions continued throughout Britain. The tragic slaying of Stephen Lawrence, in 1993 and the subsequent ailments and Macpherson Inquiry published in 1999 ( Macpherson, 1999 ) about the manner in which the Metropolitan constabularies had mishandled the instance, is viewed as major benchmark in “ race ” issues ( Back et al. , 2002 ) . In this regard the Macpherson Inquiry was a important marker in racism in that institutional racism was exposed and put on the political docket by the so Home Secretary Jack Straw ( Back et al 2002 ) .

The Report stated that “ racism in general footings consists of behavior or words or patterns which disadvantage or advantage people because of their coloring material, civilization, or cultural beginning. In its more elusive signifier it is every bit detrimental as in its open signifier ” ( 6.4 ) . And although the study had been on the constabulary force, from the grounds which was collected by the Inquiry, in look intoing ‘institutional racism ‘ they concluded that “ racism, institutional or otherwise, is non the privilege of the constabulary service. It is clear that other bureaus including for e.g. those covering with lodging and instruction besides suffer from the disease ‘ ( 6.54 ) .

For the intents of the Inquiry the construct of institutional racism which was applied was – “ The corporate failure of an administration to supply an appropriate and professional service to people because of their coloring material, civilization or cultural beginning. It can be seen or detected in procedures, attitudes and behavior which sum to favoritism through unintentional bias, ignorance, inconsideration and racialist pigeonholing which disadvantage minority cultural people ” 6.34

Robin Oakley[ 4 ], in his entry to the Macpherson Inquiry had contended that the default place of the historical mono-culture ‘will be given to pretermit multi-cultural issues and to consistently disfavor minority cultural groups. Majority civilization provides a filter through which minority behavior is perceived: it provides a ‘lens of normalcy ‘ in footings of which such behavior is unconsciously judged and responded to.

Following the recommendations made in the Macpherson Report in 1999 the Race Relations ( Amendment ) Act 2000 was introduced. The amendments extended further the application of the Race Relations Act 1976 to the constabulary and other public governments ; “ freedom under that Act for Acts of the Apostless done for the intent of safeguarding national security ; and for affiliated intents ; in-migration and nationality instances ; and judicial and legislative Acts of the Apostless ” ( RRAA 2000 ) .

The act besides specified that local governments adhere to general statutory responsibility: to extinguish improper racial favoritism ; and to advance equality of chance and good dealingss between individuals of different racial groups. However, the euphory that followed the public recognition of institutional favoritism, proved to be highly ephemeral.

Since late 1990s alteration in political position consequences in alteration in policies

Since the late 1990s many European authoritiess dropped the term ‘multicultural ‘ from their policy vocabularies, the civilization of black people was considered to be excessively different to suit ( Vertovec and Wessendorf, 2009 ) . Two important events in 2001 besides led to a alteration in “ race ” dealingss issues in the UK. During the summer months, “ race ” “ public violences ” between black and white young persons occurred in Burnley, Oldham and Bradford ; ( John, 2006 ) and in the US the devastation of the World Trade towers in 2001 by Muslim ‘terrorists ‘ . Although the incident occurred in the US, ripples from this event brought political and societal alterations in the UK.

The policies introduced under the ‘Prevent ‘ terrorist act scheme, have increased racism, and Muslims, and people of Asiatic and African beginning are happening that somehow they are all being held responsible for the September 11 onslaught ( Kundnani, 2002 ) , authorities curate Hazel Blears states this is the world which Muslims must confront being members of the targeted community[ 5 ].

The multiculturalists ‘ policies came to be imagined as commiting difference and segregation ( Kundnani, 2007 ) and there was a common ‘sceptical bend ‘ against ‘cultural diverseness ‘ , ‘backlash against difference ‘ ( Back et Al 2002 ; Sivanandan 2006 ) . Gilroy ( 2007 ) and Kundnani ( 2007 ) suggest that there now exists in Britain an imagined patriotism in which “ coloured ” migrators are discussed as ‘the enemy within ‘ and ‘aliens ‘ ( Gilroy 2007 ; Kundnani 2007 ) . Culture became the new racism. Thought other civilizations could non suit in British manner of life. Now writings in this field explore the interconnectednesss between “ race ” and nationhood, nationalism and patriotism. However, while the nation-state obviously remains of import, a figure of writers have late suggested that the metropolis is going progressively outstanding as a site for bring forthing, managing, negociating and contending cultural and political individualities ( Amin and Thrift, 2002 ) ; Isin, 2002 ) . This would propose that the place in communities is different to that of the state province.

The events, both political and societal, have led to a renewed attack and constabularies by the British authorities in the UK. A conspicuous new terminological linguistic communication has been introduced in the discourse of ‘ ” race ” dealingss ‘ – ‘integration ‘ , ‘diversity ‘ , ‘difference ‘ , and ‘cohesion ‘ and a return to the earlier use of the term “ integrating ” . The new linguistic communication has been criticised by many as complex and multifaceted ( Grillo 2007 ) “ the really wideness of the integrating procedure makes it difficult to specify in any precise manner ” , the term is ‘so over-used and invoked without any effort to set up relevant indexs ‘ ( p118[ 6 ]) ( Castles et al 2002, 3.1.1 ) . While the above has been a treatment of the political and societal events which have socially constructed racism, the undermentioned subdivision will discourse how racism operates.

The survey of racism has shown that it operates through systems of subjugation. This frequently involves a dominant group who wittingly or unwittingly exploit and reap unjust advantage over members of subsidiary or mark groups ( Johnson 2004 ) . The dominant group besides has economic, political or societal, power over the subsidiary group. In the UK, this can be seen as ‘white ‘ people holding power over ‘black ‘ people. ( Essed and Goldberg, 2002 ) suggests that racism is created through everyday patterns by people. They describe racism as both ‘structure ‘ and ‘process ‘ . It is construction because laterality and favoritism exists and is reproduced through the preparation and application of regulations, Torahs, and ordinances and through entree to and the allotment of resources. As a procedure, it exists in the mundane pattern where it is reproduced and reinforced, accommodating continually to the ever-changing societal, political and economic social conditions. It becomes ‘normal ‘ to the dominant group to see ‘others ‘ as different and inferior peculiarly in relation to the coloring material of their tegument ( Bhavnani 2005 ) . ‘Everyday racism ‘ refers to signifiers of favoritism that manifest themselves in ‘systematic, recurrent, familiar patterns ‘ . ‘Everyday racism ‘ ‘is infused into familiar patterns, it involves socialized attitudes and behavior ‘ ( Johnson 2004 ) . Racism besides serves to deny full engagement in economic, societal, political and cultural life by the kernel that they posit ( Anthias and Yuval-Davis 1992 ; ( Gunaratnam, 2003 ) . However, there is non a unitary system of meaning that can be labelled racist nor is there a unitary culprit or victim. This place requires turn toing the ways in which the classs of difference and exclusion or the prejudice of category, gender and ethnicity incorporate procedures of racialisation and are intertwined in bring forthing racialist discourses and results Anthias ( 1992 ( p3 ) .

There more ‘ethnicity ‘ and ‘culture affairs the more its features are represented as comparatively fixed, built-in within a group, transmitted from coevals to coevals, non merely by civilization and instruction, but by biological heritage ( Gunaratnam, 2003 ) . Cultural difference has mostly displaced the impression of biological difference, as a footing for excepting or inferiorising, both in discourse and pattern ( Anthias and Yuval-Davis 1992 ) . Anthias and Yuval-Davis ( 1992 ) argue that exclusionary patterns that are formulated on the classification of persons into groups whereby cultural or ‘racial ‘ beginning are the standards of entree or choice so they are endemically racist. They content that racism is non merely about beliefs or statements, but about the ability to enforce those beliefs or world-views as hegemonic, and as a footing for denial of rights or equality. Racism is therefore embedded in power dealingss of different types.

Whilst it is known that racism is non merely carried out by white people but besides by black people, it should non be confused with the occasional mistreatment experienced by Whites, with the systematic and institutionalised mistreatment experienced by people of coloring material ( Anthias and Yuval-Davis, 1992 ) .


The treatment above has shown that “ race ” and ethnicity are experienced and negotiated in specific spatial/historical contexts and it is hard to generalize that there is one common position which characterises all societies or all vicinities and parts in a peculiar society. Ideas about “ race ” and the significances attached to it can come in peculiar societal contexts in complex signifiers and this makes it impossible to gestate “ race ” and individuality as massive and unchangeable. The treatment has shown that over the old ages political and ideological procedures have played a really of import function in the building of popular images of minorities and in determining the development of peculiar types of policy intercession.

From the treatment above, the following points have been identified as appropriate to include in the on the job definition of the term racism which will be used in this survey.

Although the footings “ race ” and “ racism ” are themselves contradictory, the footings are utile as a manner of categorising the systematic mistreatment experienced by people from black and minority cultural communities ( BME ) .

The systematic mistreatment experienced by people from BME communities is a consequence of institutionalised inequalities in the societal construction. In denying people from BME communities, full engagement in economic, political and societal power, a self-perpetuating instability occurs. This instability systematically favours members of some cultural and cultural groups at the disbursal of others. The effects of this instability pervade all facets of the societal system and impact all aspects of people ‘s lives.

The systematic mistreatment of any group of people generates misinformation about them, which in bend becomes the ‘explanation ‘ of or justification for continued mistreatment. Racism exists as a whole series of attitudes, premises, feelings and beliefs about people of coloring material and their civilizations which are a mixture of misinformation, fright and ignorance.

Because misinformation about people of color maps as the justification for their continued mistreatment, it becomes socially empowered or sanctioned misinformation. It is recycled through the society as a signifier of conditioning that affects everyone. In this manner, misinformation about people of coloring material becomes portion of everyone ‘s ‘ordinary ‘ premises.

Racism operates as a scheme of divide and conquer. It helps to perpetuate a societal system in which some people are systematically ‘haves ‘ and others are systematically ‘have nots ‘ . While the ‘haves ‘ receive certain material benefits from this state of affairs, the long scope effects of racism short alteration everyone. Racism sets groups of people against each other and makes it hard for us to comprehend our common involvements as human existences.

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